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Full text of "My Country And My People"

8             MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

librarians abroad who see China only through the reflection
of the Confucian classics.   The true Europeans in China do
not speak Chinese, and the true Chinese do not speak English.
The Europeans who speak Chinese too well develop certain
mental habits akin to the Chinese and are regarded by their
compatriots as "queer."  The Chinese who speak English too
well and develop Western mental habits are "denationalized/9
or they may not even speak Chinese, or speak it with an
English accent. So by a process of elimination, it would seem
that we have to put up with the Old China Hand, and that
we have largely to depend upon his understanding of pidgin.
The Old China Hand, or O.C.H.ólet us stop to picture
him, for he is important as your only authority on China. He
has been well described by Mr. Arthur Ransome.1   But to my
mind, he is a vivid personality, and one can now easily picture
him in the imagination. Let us make no mistake about him.
He may be the son of a missionary, or a captain or a pilot, or
a secretary in the consular service, or he may be a merchant to
whom China is just a market for selling sardines and "sunkist"
oranges.  He is not always uneducated; in fact, he may be a
brilliant journalist, with one eye to a political advisorship and
the other to a loan commission. He may even be very well in-
formed within his limits, the limits of a man who cannot talk three
syllables of Chinese and depends on his English-speaking
Chinese friends for his supplies of information.  But he keeps
on with his adventure and he plays golf and his golf helps to
keep him fit. He drinks Lipton's tea and reads the North China
Daily News, and his spirit revolts against the morning reports
of banditry and kidnapping and recurrent civil wars, which
spoil his breakfast for him.   He is well shaved and dresses
more neatly than his Chinese associates, and his boots are
better shined than they would be in England, although this
is no credit to him, for the Chinese boys are such good boot-
blacks.   He rides a distance of three or four miles from his
home to his office every morning, and believes himself desired
at Miss Smith's tea.   He may have no aristocratic blood in
his veins nor ancestral oil portraits in his halls, but he can
always circumvent that by going further back in history and

* The Chinese Puzzle, especially the chapter on "The Shanghai Mind/'